Crossing Paths

[Note: Title needs to be changed. Placeholder. Slightly R-Rated language/situations — not enough to keep anyone interested ;-)]

“You don’t understand… Some guys, they have enemies. Some guys like me, they are just their own enemies. You wouldn’t understand the kind of battles I have to fight with myself every single day … It’s like, you know you’re gifted, and special and all that. But at the end of the day, you look at the day, or days that have passed, months, years, and you try to remember something that made you feel good about yourself… you know… one thing… and you know what? you can’t remember it. and you know it’s not a memory problem. the problem is, that there isn’t anything to remember… nothing. zilch…”

“Calm down… just calm down…”

“And why does everyone tell me to calm down? I *am* calm. This is no rage… not even passion. Passion would be amazing. I don’t feel it though. I feel death. You know … not *the* death … I wouldn’t mind that … that I wouldn’t be there to mind it is irrelevant really … but there is a finality in death. end of all hope. and end of all chances. you know… no more chances to waste, and that would be a relief, actually… it’s this death of, how do I say it… for feeling is an insipid word… bland bland… I feel as if the world is moving away from me… not geographically, you know… but away. I feel like I can never get back to it… that it will never embrace me again … like those old days, when people were excommunicated … only I’ve not sinned … I’ve just turned into a zombie … and as if my lifelessness is contagious, they’ve just quarantined me… But the truth is, I’ve quarantined myself”

******

His hand moved further up, hesitating and yet bold. Tasting the limits. I shuddered at his touch. Then I thought of Ravi, and it hit me that I think of Ravi only in such times. It’s almost a reflex thinking, not guilt. I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist his advances. So I lean back, closing the distance between us. He gets the signal. The hand is now remarkably sure of itself as it finds its destination. It had taken a full hour, this game of willing seduction — we knew and yet we didn’t. Who dares first. Who calls the bluff? I had waited for him to show some initiative, just for a change. Normally I hate teasing. I don’t have patience for it.

“Let’s get some fresh air”, he says.

“I’m tired of fresh air. Let’s finish what we started”

Silently we move to his room. Once there, he’s a changed man. Assured that I’m
all his for the night.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

I don’t answer, and just push him onto the bed.

“No, I mean, what about Ravi?”

He’s Ravi’s friend, and friendship can be a real bitch. But I know this is not friendship, it’s the guilt. He wants me to tell him it’s alright. I’m not into charity.

“Want to call him?” I ask, tired of this duplicity.

“I was just …”

“You just what? You just wanted me to take the responsibility of it all? But, you know, I didn’t seduce you”

That was a lie. Partly I did. Seduction is never a one way street. But I didn’t start it. It’s just that when I saw he was flirting with me — very innocently, never believing he had a chance, and keeping an exit open all the time — I took him up on the offer. And now he wants to make it look like I’m the seductress. Normally, I wouldn’t even mind that. But then there are days when a streak of honesty clouds my otherwise reliable lust.

He looked at me and then looked away. He thought for a moment, and found nothing to say.

“Tell me, do you want it or not?” I persisted.

He pulled me on top of him, and started fondling my breast through my clothes.

“Is that a yes?” like I said, it was one of those days.

“You know it was a yes, you knew it all along”

“Then why did you have to bring Ravi into this”

He pulled his hand away from my breast. He pushed me away, slightly, involuntarily.

“Do we have to talk about it?”

“Well you started it”

“You know, given our situation, I had to ask”

But why was I supposed to have the answer? Why should I be asked that question? Did he ask himself the question? And what made him believe I’d have the answer if he couldn’t find it?

“Isn’t it too late to ask it?”

“What is it that you want?”

“Honesty”

He looked at me with disbelief.

“You’re one screwed lady. I think this all was a wrong idea”

He started to get up. I didn’t move for a while. Then I realized it was his room. That I had to get out, not he. My whole body was crying out for a good fuck and my mind was crying for a fucking honesty! And then, I was the one cheating Ravi…

I got up and kissed him on the cheeks tenderly. I really felt bad for him. He must have been amazingly unlucky to meet that version of me. He looked at me coldly and opened the door for me. I walked out quickly, as he slammed the door after me.

******

“Sir, I think you should stop now”, the waiter said to me. Is he crazy? Isn’t he supposed to be selling me stuff!

“Huh? I’ve enough money, don’t worry”, I snapped. He started to say something but stopped. I guess he’s used to creeps like me. He brought another drink for me, and turned to entertain another customer.

“What can I get you?”, he asked in the same polite voice, a bit too polite if you ask me.

“Whatever the gentleman is having”, said a women’s voice. That explained the change of tone.

I turned to look at her. I wasn’t disappointed. I was too drunk to care about she noticing me taking in her body piece by piece. Her hair were disorganized. She probably wore no wakeup, and was dressed in simple clothes. Her eyes held my gaze with a curious expression. Then she smiled a disarming smile. I smiled back at her.

“Like what you see?”, she asked.

“Undoubtedly. I’m sure there is more to it than meets the eye”

Was that me? I thought of Mridu. The last thing I needed at this moment was a fling. Mridu was my last link to the world.

“I like direct men”

“Good for you”, I said as I gulped some more Vodka.

“I’m Suchi… Suchitra. Mind if I joined you?”

It was hard enough to ignore her, and she was making it more difficult. Not that she was extremely beautiful or anything, just above average, and yet there was something irresistible about her.

“No, not really. I’m Ashwin”, I said extending my hand. Her hand was soft, but her handshake was quite firm.

“On business here?”

For a moment I wanted to ask her the same thing, but then that would have been extremely rude.

“Yes. A stupid conference. What about you?”

“Oh I am was here to meet a friend. It was a bad idea”

“Why? I mean, if you don’t mind telling that is”

What was wrong with me? What did I care, really? I attributed that to the over-drinking again. That’s the best thing about being high. You can blame everything you do on the drink.

“Well there isn’t too much to tell. It’s one of those weird things that happen to you, you know. You are about to get what you want, and then suddenly you don’t want it. You want something else…”

“Tell me about it. But you’re lucky. You still want something”

“You don’t?”

“No. It’s like, these days it doesn’t occur to me at all — that I could want something”

“No kidding!”

I silently took another sip of Vodka.

“So you’re beyond desire?” she asked.

“Not beyond desire — that’s when you’ve conquered desire, not lost it”

“Let’s say if I offered to sleep with you, you wouldn’t desire that?”

“Is there a point in hypothetical questions?”

“Oh no, I’m serious. If you want to find out, I’m game”

Things are not supposed happen like that. Not to me. Not now of all the times!

“There is a difference between lust and desire, you know”

“No I don’t. And I don’t believe there is. Tell me what’s the difference?”

“Lust is carnal. Desire is mental”

“Crap. You mean our bodies think for us in lust? It’s all a romanticized bullshit. Lust or desire, it starts in the mind, and ends in the mind — when, and if, it’s fulfilled”

“Lust is momentary — and even if it’s fulfilled, the satisfaction is as momentary”

“So is desire”

“But when its fulfilled, it stays with you. You don’t forget it. You can’t forget it”

“So all you feel for me, if anything, is lust?”

“Yes. There is something about you that turns me on. But I know even if we pursued this lust, I will forget you soon. Not completely, but you’d never hang around. And I’m sure you’ll forget me too”

“But then how much of what you’ve desired in the past do you remember? I desired my husband. Then I had him. But then over the years, I neither desire him, nor remember him, not in any meaningful way that is, although we stay together. And I assure you, I loved him, deeply. It wasn’t lust, according to your definition. That’s why I can’t believe that there is a difference there. Everything is a lust, some last a little bit longer”

I thought of Mridu again. She would be waiting for my call. I had promised I’d call after dinner. My cell phone’s roaming wasn’t enabled by the idiots despite calling them up couple of times to confirm it. She couldn’t reach me.

Mridu wanted us to get engaged. What could engagement change, I wanted to know.

“You know, it’s taking the relationship to the next level”, she said.

“Next level of what?”

“Commitment”, she said exasperated.

“And would the diamond ring take us there?”

“You’re impossible”

What did she see in me? When your life is nothing but a series of conscious run away choices, you don’t expect to be loved. Why did Mridu, who could have got a much better guy (and deserved!) chose to love me? Did she love me?

“What are you thinking?”

“About my girlfriend. She will be expecting my call”

“Why don’t you call?”

“My cell phone’s not working”

“Here, use mine”

“Nah, that’s okay. I’ll call her from my room, later”

We talked for a while. We were interrupted by the waiter, after a while.

“Sir, we’re closing down the bar. These days we get into trouble if we overshoot the deadline”

“Aw shucks. And here I was having nice time with the lady”

She smiled, “We can continue this conversation in your room. There is no deadline for drinking in the rooms, is it?”

The waiter shook his head, politely. God, these guys have to be polite all the time, even to drunkards.
“I’ll arrange for it, Sir”

******

It was at two in the night that I remembered that I had to call up Mridu.

“Oh Shit!”, I said, “I had to make that call!”

She looked at me curiously.

“You really love her, don’t you. Shit, I’m sorry. I’ve been a bad bad girl today”

“The thing is”, I said, before I could think, “I don’t know”

How is it that the things that we don’t even acknowledge to ourselves, we end up thinking out loud in front of total strangers? She looked at me as if telling me she understood. Her eyes that had mesmerized me all the while looked even prettier.

“You don’t desire her…”, she said softly, matter-of-factly.

Her eyes were knowing and sad. And if there is one thing I don’t want to blame on the Vodka, it’s the desire I felt for her, at that moment. And the next moment as I kissed her. And the next, when she kissed me back. And the next …

The next morning she was gone. I searched in vain if she had left any contact number. Well she hadn’t but she had left a chit of paper, that bore a small message, with hurried handwriting:

Sometimes we need to live one moment for all it’s worth, and then the next
moments live all by themselves. I know there is no going back for both of us, nor
can we go forward. But I think we set each other free.Love,
Suchi

Sometimes you get something just to lose it. And that’s why it’s precious.

I severed my last link with the world when I broke of with Mridu. The world didn’t embrace me, but I embraced it. I had to sin to end the quarantine. I never met Suchi again. All I know about her is what she told me that night. Essentially all that you know now. I don’t know what I’d have to say to her if we ever meet again. I guess I’ll thank her, wish her well and walk off. And yet she’ll hang around.

Living is a messy affair.

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5 thoughts on “Crossing Paths

  1. anonymous says:

    welcome back!
    nice one – flowed well, definitely didn’t sound forced.
    Living is a messy affair indeed. Loved that line – packed the punch very well.

    ano

  2. anonymous says:

    hey nazi,
    loved reading this. its quiet a layer cake. loved the bit abt death and quarantine.
    all though when u end with ” I had to sin to end the quarantine” it becomes kinda confusing. or maybe i need to read it again . Will get back

  3. anonymous says:

    I loved the start – the first couple of paragraphs. I didn’t get them at first, then read through the whole piece, and came back to the start again. Then, it fell into place. There is a poignance about it, that makes one feel empty inside.

    The last line, as ano said, packs punch. A great start and great end. You must, as I always say, keep writing!

  4. anonymous says:

    This is not forced writing. This is the kind of writing that makes you meander and journey and flow with the words. So stop, selling yourself short. I liked this better than a few of your other works btw.

    You have at times gone in for the overkill though and that is so not you (considering you were the one that “taught” me about overkill, it is even more of a surprise)…for instance these lines “But why was I supposed to have the answer? ….And what made him believe I’d have the answer if he couldn’t find it?”, could have been pithy, more concise.

    Maybe the theme is a bit repetitive but I am not complaining, I would read more of this. Ever so often when you are reading something, you find a line, a phrase that defines the article for you, every error diminishes then and you know that no matter how this ends, you will walk away liking it. “Sometimes we need to live one moment for all it’s worth, and then the next moments live all by themselves”, this line did that for me.

    Write more and never you mind about the habit….

    Scarlett

  5. asuph says:

    first of all, thanks a ton for singing off with your names 😀

    ano: will take your word for it, for flow. the thing is when you write you have a flow in mind so at times you think there is a flow when there isn’t. this time it was almost ulta. i actually had forced this out, for i hadn’t written anything for a while. but maybe the pent up urge came out and gave it a flow that i wasn’t sure was there.

    bilbo: thanks. i guess i need not explain anything. i wanted to say “i had to sin to end the excommunication” that would have conveyed the irony, but then i don’t know why i dropped that. and i never went back to it at all. the whole story almost. that explains all the typos and other errors.

    but above all the comment about “layered cake” was a big compliment. thanks.

    sal: well ditto ;-). i loved the start and end too. poignance! now that’s my word, you can’t use it just like that. hell even i ration it these days.

    besides, i was expecting a critique too. none of you have given it. i’d have shredded the story had it been written by someone else. too many problems.

    scarlett: ah! someone noticed that line :). u know as a writer (and you would know, so would all the three other ladies that commented) u like some wordplay, some twist, some subtlity in your writing. when someone else notices the same thing, it’s feels great.

    yeah, as I read it, i found more such examples. like i said to sal, i’d probably critique this left and right. the thing is i am lazy when it comes to my own stories. need to go back and tidy them up. sigh!

    oh, and it is forced writing. and what is it with the piece that only females find it worth commenting? :p at this rate i’ll be invited to write for femina 😀 okay, that’s insulting you guys really.

    thanks all for comments. i learn a thing or two about my own stories through some of your comments.

    regards,
    asuph

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